Retired at age 22
In an interview published Friday, former world number one Martina Hingis said for her a return to tennis was "unimaginable", but the 22-year old Swiss, hampered by an ankle injury, stopped short of making her retirement official.
In an interview with French newspaper L'Equipe, Hingis repeated that she was no longer able to do what was required to play top-level professional tennis.
"A return to competition is unimagineable. But there you go... it is finished. Life goes on."
Asked does this mean she'll never return, she stopped short of making it official: "More or less, yes that's the truth. In any case, it's the truth right now, that's for sure."
Only Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, and Chris Evert have spent more weeks at number one than the Slovakian-born Swiss, whose five grand slams are on par with the tally of the current top woman in the game Serena Williams.
She blames her premature exit on her bad ankle, which never fully recovered after a second operation in May of last year. Hingis blames her grueling schedule, but does not blame WTA organisers: "The difficulty in my case comes from the fact that I regularly played finals for five years on hardcourt surfaces against 10 tens, but also top 20 and 30 [players]."
Hingis tells l'Equipe that when she tried practicing with fellow Swiss players Patty Schnyder and Myriam Casanova - who's now coached by Martina's mother - she felt the pain.
Known as a player who wore down her rivals rather than power past them, Hingis was asked what she thought of the Williams sisters: "Who can rival them today? Outside of Kim Clijsters, I don't see who. Kim can do it because physically, she's fit, she has the talent, and she has the game for that."
Currently enrolled in a University-level program in Zurich, Hingis says she now aims to perfect her English skills and possibly study marketing.
"In tennis, I stay in contact with Anna Kournikova and Monica Seles. Regrets? No regrets at all. Tennis has given me so much, a magnificent life!"